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Children’s campaign leads way on climate change

On the Edge

On The Edge
Áine Ryan

IT is potentially the most powerful revolution that is happening right around the world – and I am not referring to Trumpist style nativism, misogyny or racism. This, rather, is a movement that the next generation of voters and possible world leaders have introduced to classrooms and corridors across the globe. It’s about the looming catastrophe of climate change, and our children – from primary and secondary schools – have become the experts and the activists.
We should bow our heads in shame that we have left it up to these young people to take responsibility for the future of our delicate planet.
Last Friday, March 15, these ‘Fridays for Future’ activists gathered outside Dáil Éireann once again, and in towns and cities all over the country. Their message is simple: Government  must declare ‘a climate emergency’ and prioritise ‘the protection of life on Earth’. That should be a no-brainer, shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t it be headline news every night, instead of the out-and-out farce of Brexit?
But as these young people – our young people – so rightly opine: “The media’s disinterest in climate change results in a public disinterest in the same, and thus the media does not write stories about a topic with little room for gaining ‘clicks’.”
They suggest that perhaps ‘one of the reasons for the lack of coverage on climate change is the inherent ‘unsexiness’ of the issue’. Well, they appear to be absolutely correct when they argue that ‘climate change isn’t as immediately tangible as a Trump tweet or a lotto win’.
Ah yes, one wonders what we have become in this myopic media world where the rantings and ravings of a yellow-haired, orange orangutan-like figure consumes us more than our uncontrolled exploitation of our planet.      
While politicians preparing for the upcoming local and European elections may not understand the power of this movement, they ignore it at their peril. Remember, many of these children and teenagers will be exercising their franchise at the next general election.
Swedish school strike
LIKE all major movements, this campaign has a simple genesis. Last August a 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg made headlines when she started a school strike and picketed outside the Swedish Rickstag (parliament) to raise the issue of global warming.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos six months later, she said: “I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference. And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to … We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions in the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself.”       
Isn’t it humbling to read such words, and equally, frightening to be exposed on a daily basis to the unadulterated crap coming out of the mouths of those who choose to elevate themselves to positions of leadership? However, isn’t it inspiring that our next generation is showing us the way to act in a responsible manner, harnessing renewable resources rather than exploiting the limited assets of our delicate ecosystem?
In an opinion piece that was published recently on the youth organisation website spunout.ie, TY student Theo Cullen-Mouze from Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh, wrote: “On the 15th of March, Ireland joins the Global Climate Strike with protests arranged in 13 locations around the country already. We are demanding that our government does the job that it was elected to do – to lead our country. We are demanding that immediate radical action be taken, so that our future may be safeguarded.
“By striking, we send a powerful message to our leaders. In the words of Greta Thunberg: ‘Our education is worthless if we do not have a future’.”
Wise words.

MORE schoolstrikes4climate.ie and fridaysforfuture.ie